Integrated Care: Connecting Patients to Mental Health Support Onsite

Over the past six years, the Free Clinic has continued to address one of the largest gaps in healthcare: expanding access to mental health care for working, uninsured community members. Last year, we  were able to screen virtually all of our patients, and connected more than half of our patients who demonstrated a need for mental healthcare onsite.

When a patient comes to the Free Clinic for an appointment for the first time, they fill out a standardized mental health questionnaire called a PHQ9. If their score indicates they might benefit from mental health support, we connect them with a counselor or psychiatrist.

During our daytime clinic, patients see our dual-degree Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) or a part-time The Women’s Initiative (TWI) counselor onsite. During evening clinics, our Mental Health Ambassadors — UVA Social Issues in Medicine (SIMs) students and nursing and medical school volunteers — serve as the connective tissue that connects patients to volunteer psychiatrists and counselors. Our goal is to ensure that our patients are connecting with people who can help.

Our work through the Integrated Care program supports our important role in our community—to keep an open door to healthcare for our neighbors in need.